Back when I lived in Chorlton I rode the 86 bus every day, like you do, and there would always be this same handsome guy on the bus and a look would always pass between us. Nothing ever came of it. One day he started riding the bus with his girlfriend. He always sat with his arm wrapped around her and he still gave me a look but this one was sort of proprietorial, almost smug.
Meanwhile, back in the unreal world, I was a clockwork-regular at HomoElectric. It was actually unthinkable to miss one of their parties. We planned holidays and days off around them. It was the crown jewel of a tiny clutch of unmissable nights that also included Club Suicide and Chips With Everything. From there I was eventually taken to Electric Chair and Mr Scruff, and when Scruff played his fantastic set at HomoElectric it was a perfect full-circle of music and good times.
Anyway, I digress... Another regular at HomoElectric at the time was a young, spindly Black queen; he was camp as anything, exceptionally mouthy and brilliant. You could usually hear him coming a mile off, except for this one night when I was just getting into the zone and I backed into someone on the dancefloor. I turned round to say my apologies and there was the queen, full on face-pashing with the hot guy from the number 86 bus. Bus guy looked at me with a mixture of guilt and discomfort, but I just smiled and waved and kept on dancing. It was no big deal, it was a total HomoElectric moment, and there were loads of them.
It was all electroclash round here in them days. We saw My Robot Friend, WIT, Readers Wifes, plus a so-bad-it-was-actually-kinda-fun PA from Siobhan of Bananarama/Shakespears Sister. She did her version of ‘White Rabbit’ by Jefferson Airplane. Surreal. I might’ve worn a Blondie T shirt the first time I went there. One night I wore a bottle of poppers round my neck on a shoelace. I think I’ve kept most of the amazing atrocities I showed up in. There was a brief sweatband and rubber bracelet fetish. Then home-made graffiti tops. Things went a bit Nu-Rave for a while too. There was lots of asymmetric hair at one point and that amazing blonde lesbian who always danced in a sports bra. Some guy did full face make-up in the toilets for me one time. It lasted about twenty minutes out on the dancefloor.
I cringed at the name ‘HomoElectric’ at first. I was only just out and I hated the word ‘Homo’. Now I only ever call it ‘Homo’. No cringe. I’ve been out ten years and I’ve been dancing at HomoElectric for all of them. For a time, HomoElectric was the best kept wide-open secret in town. One morning – post-Homo at a late night gentlemen’s establishment – I met up with a DJ from Essential who asked where I’d been for the night. I couldn’t believe he’d never heard of HomoElectric. Sometimes you’d be shocked at who did know about the place, even though it was always rammed. (‘Oh my god, you’re here...?’) I met my first boyfriend and my new boyfriend in Legends. I still can’t believe they’re letting it close.
There were so many good HomoElectric stories. One night my then boyfriend leaned on a spotlight in a mesh shirt and had grill-shaped burns on his back for weeks. It once took me five minutes to walk the four steps down to the dancefloor because I thought the shadows were holes in the ground. I think Davey Dobson got me to safety in the end. Thanks Dave. When I moved into a flat just up the road from Legends, I jogged home in the middle of the night more than once to get changed, or take a shower, or replace a shirt that I’d lost. Seemed like a good idea at the time I guess. More than once I got home without any shoes on, one time even in the snow. Somebody piggybacked me. I’ve no idea who. I remember the night everybody must have done their shopping at the same place. Everyone came up like billy-oh, they were queuing up to explosive-puke on a pile of plastic chairs down one of the corridors. We sat on the stairs laughing like goons and then we danced for five hours without a rest. A couple of times on a Sunday you’d spot a familiar shirt or dress out on the streets of the city centre. It would be somebody still pin-balling to or from another party that was actually the tail-end of Friday’s HomoElectric.
There was so much good music. It was an education. Erol Alkan stripping everything down to brass tacks, including us. Ivan Smagghe doing crunchy monochrome death-music in near-darkness. The majestic Mark Moore, who I’m pretty sure shoe-horned ‘Song 2’ into some unbelievable mix or other. Fischerspooner, Gwen Guthrie, Sebastien Tellier, Chaka Khan. The residents themselves were and are solid gold.
The rules of the rest of the city seemed to perceptibly lift when you walked down the steps into Legends for HomoElectric. The placed heaved with the ghosts of parties, from the Twisted Wheel up to the leather bears down-and-dirty get-togethers. You could often kiss your mates goodbye at the door, it was possible you might not see them again that night but there were always new friends to be made. ‘You can learn a lot more than you think about somebody on the dancefloor,’ a clever woman once said.
All good things must come to an end though, and they did. I remember dancing with Matt Rothery at the last closing party. ‘They’ll be talking about this for years to come,’ we said. ‘And we were there...!’
HomoElectric will live on, in Manchester some place, and London too, but nowhere in the world will match HomoElectric the way Legends did, the way Morecambe matches Wise, the way Fischer matches Spooner; not for spirit, not for love, not for all those party ghosts... It’s all over now, baby blue. Play a song for me, would you ...?